Does Proactiv Work: Acne Help or Only Hype?


Unless you live under a rock, there’s no way you haven’t seen commercials for or read acne cream reviews for the acne fighting product Proactive. But is there any substance behind all the style? Does Proactiv work as well as we are led to believe it does? Recent articles in the website for women, Jezebel, challenged Proactiv’s claims.

For their articles, Jezebel spoke to many disgruntled Proactiv customers who complained of problems ending their subscription as well as with the product itself. One customer said they have been trying to contact the company for more than a month. They have tried several different phone numbers as well as contact by mail, all of which have gotten no response.

When asked for his response Perry Romanowski, cosmetic chemist and writer for The Beauty Brains, replied that this behavior is typical of the subscription business model. This way of doing business counts on customers just paying their monthly credit card bills and not looking at the charges.

As for the effectiveness of Proactiv products, Romanowski said that it is standard, but not better than better than products available at any department or superstore. The ads for it imply some super-secret ingredient, but it’s just benzoyl peroxide a common ingredient in over-the-counter acne products. Any product with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide will work just as well. He stresses that Proactiv does work, so customers aren’t being ripped off, just overcharged. Another site for acne cream reviews conducted a poll of different acne products. Proactive scored 2 ¾ out of 5. That site concludes that it received this rating because the products contain the right chemicals to be effective, but also enough of those chemicals to cause irritation and more breakouts. The only Proactiv product that can be said to work without causing irritation is the Repairing Treatment.

A more positive review says that Proactive sports a new and improved formula, which is purported to be much gentler than the old one. They recommend using the products dutifully after allowing your skin to get used to them (which may differ depending upon how sensitive your skin is or if you have other unknown resistances to the ingredients). The products specifically praised are the cleanser, toner, and repairing lotion. They advise to use them sparingly, however, as a little goes a long way.

The Proactiv official website,, does offer advice and a guarantee. The ‘Get Advice’ tab is a good, if biased, source of information on Proactiv and acne. You can get personal support, speak live with a trained skin care expert, or check in with one of the doctors who created it. The guarantee is for a full refund of purchase price (not including the shipping and handling) with return of the product bottles and a receipt within 60 days of purchase.

So, does Proactiv work?  From my detailed review of all those articles and people’s experiences, basically the bottom line is that Proactiv works, it’s just overpriced and a little too powerful. Those two things can actually cancel each other out. If you use less than directed, it will last longer and be more worth the cost. Or you could just buy an equally effective product that costs less.

Filed under Acne Reviews, Acne Treatment, Proactiv Reviews by on #

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